With the Arctic melt being the biggest on record, it’s no wonder the deniers want to look away and to the south. It’s what they are compelled to do in order to maintain their juvenile wilful ignorance. Three monkeys syndrome. For others, like Jo Nova, it’s more about maintaining her readership to generate advertising revenue for her blog. Too cynical? Perhaps. In all seriousness, Jo has gone and shown just how little she understands anything associated with science as she takes the shallow road in critical thinking skills. She has posted this graph:
This graph shows above average sea ice in the Antarctic. Hooray! (or not). Although we all know what it looks like, let’s just compare it to its counterpart from the north.
It’s no wonder Jo doesn’t want to look at it. The disturbing thing about Jo Nova’s post is her sarcastic dig at the way sea ice is being reported. She says, “I expect that our non-hemispherist unbiased and diligent newspapers will be running with matching ones very soon.” Sarcasm, the weapon of the witless. I’d like to know, if she thinks what’s going on in the Arctic is not newsworthy? It’s certainly inconvenient for her and her ilk. She is actually lamenting that the Antarctic sea ice growth (or lack of decline) is not getting the same headlines as the Arctic melt and even puts forward a few suggestions for what headlines she might expect to see in the future. She thinks its funny to suggest headlines like these:
They’re not funny, but what is funny is the fact that I actually agree with Jo Nova that the Antarctic situation is deserving of headlines, but not for the same reason as Jo. When one actually does a little bit of research, one finds that there is an explanation for the apparent growth in sea ice (or lack of decline) in the Antarctic and it is due to AGW. This paper, by Jinlun Zhang of the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington describes the process. Here is the relevant part of the abstract.
… an increase in surface air temperature and downward longwave radiation results in an increase in the upper-ocean temperature and a decrease in sea ice growth, leading to a decrease in salt rejection from ice, in the upper-ocean salinity, and in the upper-ocean density. The reduced salt rejection and upper-ocean density and the enhanced thermohaline stratification tend to suppress convective overturning, leading to a decrease in the upward ocean heat transport and the ocean heat flux available to melt sea ice. The ice melting from ocean heat flux decreases faster than the ice growth does in the weakly stratified Southern Ocean, leading to an increase in the net ice production and hence an increase in ice mass. This mechanism is the main reason why the Antarctic sea ice has increased in spite of warming conditions both above and below during the period 1979–2004 and the extended period 1948–2004.
Now, the Zhang paper is based on modelling with the assumption that there is a change in salinity in the Southern ocean surrounding Antarctica, and well, there is, as evidenced by this 2010 paper from Stanley S. Jacobs and Claudia F. Giulivi. The authors examined temperature and salinity data from the Antarctic continental shelf dating back to the late 50′s and consistently found a drop in salinity associated with a corresponding drop in temperature. This is linked to changes in atmospheric circulation increasing freshwater run-off from the Antarctic continent. This is evidenced in this 2009 paper by I. Velicogna which reports an increasing rate of decline in total ice mass in the Antarctic. Here is the abstract.
We use monthly measurements of time-variable gravity from the GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) satellite gravity mission to determine the ice mass-loss for the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets during the period between April 2002 and February 2009. We find that during this time period the mass loss of the ice sheets is not a constant, but accelerating with time, i.e., that the GRACE observations are better represented by a quadratic trend than by a linear one, implying that the ice sheets contribution to sea level becomes larger with time. In Greenland, the mass loss increased from 137 Gt/yr in 2002–2003 to 286 Gt/yr in 2007–2009, i.e., an acceleration of −30 ± 11 Gt/yr2 in 2002–2009. In Antarctica the mass loss increased from 104 Gt/yr in 2002–2006 to 246 Gt/yr in 2006–2009, i.e., an acceleration of −26 ± 14 Gt/yr2 in 2002–2009. The observed acceleration in ice sheet mass loss helps reconcile GRACE ice mass estimates obtained for different time periods.
So, yes Jo Nova, there should be more attention paid to the Antarctic cryosphere because its apparent growth of sea ice (or lack of decline) is actually due to the very thing you deny. Thanks for pointing it out.